Tesla is under fire from regulators for violations of California’s labor laws and has been levied a fine of $29,365. The fine stems from an inspection of its GA4 open-air assembly structure located outside its main factory in Fremont and conducted by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal-OSHA. The inspection occurred between June 21 and December 18, 2018 and has raised questions about the safety of workers on Tesla’s assembly line. A total of six violations were observed by Cal-OSHA inspectors over the course of a one-month period, although the agency doesn’t specify how many visits it made to the facility.
Tesla’s Model 3 sedan is in high demand, which is the reason that the company erected the temporary production tent on its back lot in Fremont. According to inspectors, Tesla did not obtain a permit prior to erected GA4, and it failed to inspect the building for any potential hazards to employee safety. A sufficient number of employees were not trained to help evacuate the facility if an emergency arises, and employees were not trained to prevent and respond to heat-related illnesses while working in the production tent’s open-air environment in hot weather. Cal-OSHA also found that workers were not protected from metal rebar and rods, which posed a thread of impalement. Inspectors also found an opening in the floor of the structure that measured 22 inches in width, 14 inches in length and 8 inches in depth, posing a risk to employee safety.
Tesla has denied the allegations by Cal-OSHA, and has appealed the citations, calling the penalty “unreasonable.” The company’s vice president of environmental, health and safety, Laurie Shelby told Business Insider that “My EHS team and operational leaders have been intently focused on GA4 over the past six months, implementing safety protocols throughout the new line that not only keep Tesla in compliance with existing standards but also reduce risks to associates. The OSHA inspection did not result from any incident or injury and occurred during the construction phase of the project. Tesla will challenge OSHA’s findings regarding the safety conditions that were present at the time of GA4 construction.”
Safety experts have said that it is not unusual for violations to occur when companies erect such structures quickly, although the speed with which GA4 was built doesn’t necessarily indicate that it is not safe.
This is not the first time that Tesla has raised eyebrows in regards to its workers’ safety. Worksafe, a worker advocacy group, reported in 2017 that the Fremont location had a 31 percent higher injury rate than the industry average for both 2015 and 2016. For 2017 and 2018, Tesla received more Cal-OSHA citations than Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler—21 in total—for which it paid fines of $63,870. Reports indicate that the company’s violations included failing to provide medical care for injured workers, avoiding using safety markings for aesthetic reasons, and misreporting workplace injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured at work, contact our Los Angeles on the job injury attorney right away to discuss your case.